Published: Saturday March 9, 2013 MYT 9:00:00 PM
Hero Hyer issues Olympic warning
BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom: Former Olympic champion Poul-Erik Hyer has issued a warning that badminton's Olympic future is at stake and that it must broaden its horizons if it is to survive within the movement.
Remaining in the Olympics is so important for badminton's funding, development and prestige that it is hard to see how the sport would continue making progress without it.
Asia makes by far the biggest contribution to the sport, and without other continents being able to do more it is debatable how the IOC would view badminton's position within the Olympic movement, Hyer thinks.
"Our Olympic status has definitely been put at risk," warned the Dane who caused a sensation by winning the men's singles gold medal at Atlanta in 1996. "I do believe that's one of the core issues."
To deal with it, Hyer says, it is vital to make more progress in all five continents. And to do that more dialogue is needed between the BWF, the sport's international governing body, and its continental confederations.
"If we are not able to develop we could find ourselves no longer a global sport," Hyer emphasised. "Then we would be unable to achieve a higher position within Olympic sports, which has 25 core sports.
"If we are to reach our potential we have to show the Olympic movement that we are really global.
"Right now we have a very strong Asia. We need to make focus on development programmes and confederations, and with developing countries.
Hyer, who was also an All-England men's singles winner in 1995 and '96, uttered these words during this week's All-England Open, as part of his bid for the vacant BWF Presidency, for which election are only two months away.
"If we look at all the things we should achieve, one of them is being a global sport, with all five continents are contributing at an international level," he re-emphasised.
It seems likely that Hyer will achieve a significant audience for this message as he appears to be the favourite to become president in succession to Kang Young-Joong of South Korea.
Although he has worthy rivals in Nadzmi Mohammed Salleh of Malaysia, and Justian Suhandinata of Indonesia, no fewer than 52 member countries of the BWF have seconded Hyer's bid, a record total.
Hyer is also President of Badminton Europe, and his political appeal is increased by his being the only European badminton player to have achieved an Olympic gold medal. -AFP